We believe women should never have to compromise their wellbeing with the products they buy or the experiences they encounter. Founder of Her Words Domini Marshall knows this first hand after being sexually assaulted and having her world turned upside down.
This horrible experience inspired Her Words, a platform where the stories of diverse women are shared to help enable all women to feel valued, reflected and represented on screen.
Her Words wants every woman to know her words matter.
As one of the seven finalists of our Female Empowerment Grant, we sat down with Domini to hear more…
Tell us about Her Words…?
Her Words is a web series that shares the stories of women and gives a platform to their voices.
Every month we focus on a different theme which could be anything from self-love to sexual assault, victim blaming, to sex and sexuality. We interview four women as part of that theme and release five episodes.
We launched this year on International Women’s Day and so far, have released 30 episodes and have interviewed 34 women as part of the series. We hope to interview another 10 before the end of the year.
Where did the idea come from?
It came from my own experience as a woman. I was a victim of sexual assault. It was through that process, through some intense counselling, where I met a lot of other women who’ve been through various things. Here I really understood the culture of victim blaming that exists in Australia and around the world.
I experienced it first-hand with my then boyfriend and through a lot of close friends who came to say very similar things, in their actions and behaviours.
The starting point for Her Words was about having space for women to share stories and validate those experiences. They feel like they’re really being heard, not being judged and definitely not alone.
You internalise that victim blaming and you actually take that on board. It takes a really long time to actually unpack that and think, “I didn't ask for this! This wasn't my fault”. This opened my eyes to the things that women are experiencing on a daily basis.
What does female empowerment mean to you?
We need to lead by example and stand up for what we believe in.
Female empowerment to me means every woman feeling that they are worthy of love, respect and belonging. It’s women feeling that they are not afraid to stand up and not being afraid to work together to create a better world.
What sets Her Words apart?
There is no web series or content that exists like this in Australia which gives local women the space to feel heard and validated.
Her Words is not that quick 30 second, fun video that you watch on BuzzFeed or something that. It’s educational. We go beyond surface conversation to delve into the challenges that women face and also highlight solutions for those who are living these situations.
Has there been an episode created that was really significant to you?
The episodes on the topic of sexual assault and victim blaming were significant for me, not only because I’m a survivor of sexual assault, but because it takes a lot of courage to speak about these experiences. The statistics around sexual assault are harrowing, and are worse for further marginalised groups.
Furthermore, for marginalised groups such as sex workers and indigenous women, they face even greater discrimination and stigma and are often not supported by police. But we don’t hear about these stories and experiences in the mainstream media. So listening to these women share their experiences on this topic was incredibly impactful for me.
What was it about our Female Empowerment Grant that struck up your interest?
I think it’s a brand that we align with. We care about social change and changing the world for the better. I remember reading the Grant itself was a platform for women to talk about what they’re doing to empower themselves, and other women. That really spoke to me because I feel like that’s essentially what we’re trying to do.
It’s a really natural fit in terms of our brand and what we’re trying to achieve.
What would you do with the Grant if you won?
Up until this point it’s completely funded by myself and also the series producer Emma. It really limits what we can do, our engagement and the impact we can have and the number of women that we can empower. This Grant would really mean the world to us.
There are a few areas that are really important.
One is obviously being financially sustainable and coming up with a really solid business plan on how we can get there is one area.
Building our media profile is really important for us because it means we can bring on partners to raise funds for the series and become financial sustainable. We’ve allocated budget for paid social reach and the creation of kits to go to influencers, other women, who are doing amazing things, who can share this story and who we’d invite to join this movement. Another is website redesign and upgrade.
Lastly, the idea is to run four events a year and the two large scale events to be held around International Women’s Day, and at the end of each year. I think I get a lot of that from real life stores, but there is nothing like being in a room with them to feel that connection. We’d need to pay for a venue, moderators, speakers, panellists, marketing collateral, hiring and events and marketing coordinator, so we can continue to build the content, a videographer, photographer, the list goes on.
The Grant would really allow us to kick this off and give people an idea as to what they can expect from Her Words. It would be a game changer.
What would it look like if Her Words was absolutely thriving and doing exactly what you wanted it to?
There’s actually so much potential and opportunity. I really feel like this is just the beginning.
That ideal situation would see us continuing to share stories of amazing women each month, on different topics and really creating positive change through Her Words.
Events would bring people together across all cities in Australia and in regional areas. It would also include something similar to what they’ve done in the US with the WING, a women’s space – yes it can be used as a co-working space but it would be a space for people to go to feel part of the community.
And then lastly something that we’re also focusing on for 2018 is how we can create content, and package it up with coursework and lesson plans and supply to high school and universities. This would really make an incredible impact in the early stages of a women’s life. I think if we can have that in every high school and university across Australia we’d be doing pretty well and would have an amazing impact.
Photo of Domini courtesy of Your Creative taken in the TOM office garden.